Newsmax asked vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan to provide his prescription for fixing the American economy and a defense of his proposed agenda, in light of the Obama’s administration’s refusal to address out-of-control entitlements. Here is his exclusive Newsmax Op-Ed.
When President Barack Obama took office in 2009, he assumed a degree of command over the federal government that few U.S. presidents have enjoyed. His party had just enlarged its already-large majority in the House of Representatives, and gained a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. The president enjoyed tremendous popularity following his historic victory.
During his campaign, then-Sen. Obama argued that what had stopped us from meeting our nation’s greatest challenges had been “the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics — the ease with which we’re distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our preference for scoring cheap political points instead of rolling up our sleeves and building a working consensus to tackle big problems.”
To solve this problem, he pledged to help us “rediscover our bonds to each other and get out of this constant, petty bickering that’s come to characterize our politics.”
The last three and a half years of divisive politics and broken promises have been disappointing.
The Obama administration did not cause the crisis we faced in January 2009. Bad policies from both parties in Washington and irresponsible behavior on Wall Street fueled the build-up of uncreditworthy mortgage liabilities in the financial sector, resulting in overwhelming debt levels and then a wave of panics, bankruptcies and foreclosures. The global financial system stood on the brink of collapse.
Yet, instead of keeping his campaign promises, advancing centrist policies to win the support of both parties, and addressing our real challenges, President Obama pursued an ideological agenda that made matters worse.
His administration and Congress sought to transform a free-enterprise society into a government-centered society. That meant a vastly expanded role for the federal government, higher spending to support that role, with higher taxes and debt to pay for his entitlement programs.
His party’s congressional leaders squandered hundreds of billions of dollars aimed to jump-start the economy and keep unemployment from rising above 8 percent. Unemployment rose above 10 percent and has remained above 8 percent for more than 40 straight months.
Instead of focusing on getting the economy back on track, the president and the last Congress enacted a government-driven health care program. They spent 16 months pursuing this disastrous law, ramming it through on a party-line vote despite warning after warning that Americans rejected his misguided plan.
Rather than address Wall Street’s financial accountability issue, the president and his Congress continued to funnel billions of dollars to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and enacted the Dodd-Frank law giving protection and preferential treatment to big banks and more power to regulators who failed in the last crisis.
In 2005, Sen. Obama and other Democratic members stopped the Senate from considering legislation that would have empowered a regulator to crack down on these ‘Government-Sponsored Enterprises,’ and control their buildup of risky assets. That legislation might have eased or prevented the home mortgage meltdown that led to the financial panic three years later. Instead, Fannie and Freddie’s executives were enriched, the taxpayer got stuck with a bill of more than $300 billion to bail them out, while millions of Americans lost their homes in ensuing financial crisis.
The crony capitalist approach is a failure: economic growth and job creation remain anemic. Unprecedented numbers of Americans have stopped looking for work. Real GDP crept up just 1.7 percent in 2011, and 1.9 percent in the 1st quarter of 2012 — well below private-sector forecasts for this year, the 3 percent historical trend rate of U.S. growth, and a fraction of the pace in a typical recovery.
The government’s fiscal position has sharply deteriorated during President Obama’s term. In three and a half years, debt held by the public grew by about $4.5 trillion — a 70 percent increase. Instead of the promised 50 percent reduction, this year’s deficit is expected to come in at $1.2 trillion. This failure may be the President’s most consequential broken promise. Our debt is projected to spiral out of control in the years ahead. This is paralyzing economic growth. Investors, businesses and families fear that the coming debt crisis portends a diminished American future.
Americans aspire to control our own destiny and remain free from foreign powers who would impose limits on our dreams for ourselves and our children. If our generation fails to meet this challenge, America will surrender her independence to an army of foreign creditors who already own roughly half of our public debt. The policies in place today guarantee that outcome, unless we change course soon.
The budget passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year drew the pattern for a new president and Congress to follow beginning in 2013. It is a plan to lift the debt and free the nation from the constraints of ever-expanding government.
This budget will promote economic growth and opportunity immediately, with bold and fundamental reforms to the tax code and a credible, principled plan to stop the debt crisis from occurring.
President Obama’s government-centered policies embody corporate welfare, taking from hard-working Americans to support politically connected companies and privileged special interests. Our budget proposes to end corporate welfare.
Our budget will strengthen welfare programs for those who truly need support.
Government safety-net programs have been stretched to the breaking point in recent years, failing the very citizens who need help the most. Relying on distant government bureaucracies to lead the effort to assist those in need simply does not work. As a result of a government-centered approach to the war on poverty, one in six Americans is now in poverty – the highest rate in a generation.
Our budget draws on the historic proven welfare reforms of the 1990s, empowering state and local governments, communities, and individuals who are closest to those in need. We also promote opportunity and upward mobility by strengthening job training programs that help those who have fallen on hard times in an era of economic and technological change.
Our budget lifts the debt, fosters economic growth, and ensures that government keeps the promises it is making to Americans. Instead of letting critical health and retirement programs go bankrupt, our budget saves and strengthens them to fulfill their mission in the 21st Century.
A debate about the future of Medicare is overdue. Unfortunately President Obama frightens seniors with false charges about our plan, while staying silent about how he has already changed Medicare forever. His health care law put a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats in charge of cutting Medicare.
Senior citizens should be greatly concerned about Democrats’ efforts to stop true Medicare reform, because this will result in painful benefit cuts for current recipients. Our budget makes no changes for those in or near retirement and keeps the protections that have made Medicare a guaranteed promise for seniors over the years.
To save Medicare for future generations, we propose to put 50 million seniors, not 15 unaccountable bureaucrats, in charge of their personal health care decisions.
President Obama will push us further in the wrong direction on taxes. He is committed to taking more from the paychecks of hard-working Americans – not to pay down the debt, but to chase ever-higher government spending.
Only with the right leadership in place can we move forward with ideas that renew the American promise of leaving our children a stronger nation than the one our parents left us.
I remain confident in the wisdom of the American people to choose a brighter path. With a decisive victory this November, we can get back to work, rebuild our country, and meet our generation’s defining challenge by ensuring greater opportunities for generations to come.